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November 29, 2021 … with new eyes

That’s a fairly heavy handed reference to my cataract operation scheduled for later today, for which I have high hopes. So, for now, let’s see whether my metaphorical new eyes are making progress:

Improve each thing hour … (Isaac Watts)

Wellington’s Botanic Garden is always worth a visit in my opinion. Some seasons are more spectacular than others, but there is always something to see. I was too late for the tulips, but a few prolific Rock Rose shrubs were displaying nicely. and were attracting the Honey bees.

Primulaceae

There are seasons of the year when certain flowers have dominance. I love it when there are tulips or poppies for example. At other times, there are random displays of less spectacular species such as a cluster of primulas just above the duckpond. This particular bed of flowers contained a lovely variety of colours arranged in small geometric clusters.

Upstream

Just a little upstream from the duckpond, the creek runs between some stepping stones and the creates little rippling ladder of water which, to paraphrase the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, sparkles out among the fern and bickers down a valley.

Love’s Labours Lost

Beside the steps to our front door, there is a collection of shrubs most dominant of which is the kowhai much loved by the kereru. As I get older, I find my gaze is directed downwards more. This is a self-defence mechanism to avoid trip hazards. It has the advantage that I spot treasures that, in the arrogance of my youth, I would have passed by. I have no clue which bird lost this egg, nor whether its loss was by accident or enemy action. However it came about this is as I found it under the kowhai shrub.

I’m called Little Buttercup

The weather has prevented lawn mowing for a week or two and consequently our lawn is rich with a splendid crop of buttercups and daisies. I am so glad that the American notion of the Home Owners’ Association (HOA) has never been a thing here. Buttercups have always presented a photographic challenge to me. I suspect this might be overcome by the use of a polarising filter to tame the reflections in the flowers. On this occasion I managed to get the surface of the petals reasonably exposed without the aid of the filters. I was a bit surprised after all these years on the planet, to learn that they are poisonous to humans and many animals.

Your best guess?

Many people wondered why I made pictures of new potatoes. If it helps, these little objects are about 1mm x 1.5mm x 2mm and in this case are firmly stuck to the painted surface at the top of a bedroom door. With no idea of what I was looking at, I posted this image to the FaceBook group, “NZ Bug Identification – Spiders, Insects etc”. Within minutes someone said those are the eggs of a Gum Emperor Moth. We have no gum trees nearby so I was baffled. We reasoned that if a gum emperor had laid them, it would be still in the room somewhere, so we started a more thorough search. Mary found it on a window sill

Gum Emperor Moth (female)

The Gum Emperor is among the most spectacular of the New Zealand Moths. This was a moderate example with a span of about 120 mm (about 4.75″). She was absolutely flawless, Like many moths she emerges with neither mouth parts nor waste disposal. Her sole function is to mate, lay eggs and then die. Sadly she found no male so the eggs duly withered and died and a few days later, so did she.

The source

We wondered where our Gum Emperor moth had come from , and the penny finally dropped. Mary had found a fallen eucalyptus branch which had a cocoon on it, and she thought I might wish to photograph it. I had forgotten about it, and in the meantime, the moth had emerged, laid eggs and died. Nature is so extravagant.

Treasure Flower

The wind was howling across the valley and I was waiting outside the War Memorial Library in Lower Hutt for Mary to collect a reserved book. This flower caught my eye and when I found an example that was in a relatively sheltered spot, set up to make the picture. I had no idea what it was, but should not have been surprised that it is yet another South African immigrant. It is Gizania riggers, or more commonly, Treasure flower.

Australian Shoveler

I need scarcely tell you that a favourite place is the wetlands at Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekakariki. I had been looking for the dabchick carrying its young on its back. I was unsuccessful on this particular day, but did catch this handsome Australian shoveler drake. Look at the length of that extraordinary bill.

Welcome Swallow

This image has a comic back story. Again I went to the bird hide at the Queen Elizabeth park wetlands. Although the door is normally closed with heavy magnetic catch, I couldn’t get in. I administered a hefty kick which should have opened it. It didn’t. Then a voice from inside asked me to wait a moment. There were sounds of hasty rearrangements followed by the bench being dragged away from the door. A few moments later an embarrassed young couple emerged red-faced and made themselves scarce. I felt guilty that I had interrupted them, but it gave me access to this view of the Welcome swallow which is beautifully coloured.

Ripples

The longest arm of the wetlands is surrounded by dense bush and when the water is relatively still, it reflects the green of the bush beautifully. This black shag cruised rapidly across and completed the picture for me. The closely spaced ripples made a beautiful background of black and green.

Parental duty

Then came the sight I hoped to see. The dabchick or weweia is a member of the grebe family. It is apparently rarely found in the South Island. Despite the glossy brown colours of the adult, the chicks are born with dark stripes on a white background. They are carried about in the plumage on the adult’s back until they get too big

Manuka

A visit to the home of daughter Lena and son-in-law Vasely let me see a beautiful manuka specimen. The intensity of the colour attracted me to make the image

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A small pine in the pot next to the manuka had what appeared to be prolific flowers. Closer inspection identified them as tin seed cones.

Before the eclipse

Last week there was the partial eclipse. We got lucky with relatively clear skies over the Hutt Valley. Early in the evening, the red moon rose in the North East and I made this image. Perhaps because I don’t have the very high quality optics and thus rarely do one of those amazing moon shots, I always like to capture some foreground. In this case we can see both sides of Stokes Valley and in the background, the foothills of the Tararuas. Later in the evening when the eclipse proper occurred, the moon was higher in the sky and was obscured by clouds at our place.

That’s all for now. Might see you again in a few weeks.

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November 14, 2021 … let’s get on with it

What kind of photographer am I? I don’t think it matters. Looking at the images I offer in this edition it is clear that my preferred subject matter is whatever I happened to belooking at when I pressed the shutter release. What is less clear, is why. My current thought is that what I am doing is enjoying the process of crafting a pleasing and/or interesting image based on whatever I was looking at when I pressed the shutter release. I scanned the candidates for inclusion in this edition and deleted two because they were less pleasing and/or interesting. Perhaps I can intensify this process.

At the ferry terminal

Placid water is magnetic as far as I am concerned. It grieves me that there are so many wonderful but inaccessible viewpoints on the Hutt Road which would provide magical views. Sadly the police would take a dim view if I stopped there to make the picture. So I occasionally pop into the car park at the InterIslander ferry terminal and walk along the footpath by the loading area to get the view. The ferry Kaiarahi has been laid up since about September and will be for several more months with gearbox issues.

Oriental Bay

I love the elegant lines of classic yachts. Combine them with a glassy calm harbour and I can’t go past it. There is some debate as to whether clear blue skies make for a good picture. I prefer some cloud interest.

Waxeye Quartet

At breakfast, I glanced out the window and spotted the small birds lining up on the kowhai tree for access to the feeder that Mary keeps filled. Since I was eating alone, my camera joined me at the table, literally. Among the horde of passerines, these four waxeyes provided a lovely opportunity with the sun glinting off the Japanese Maple in the background.

“it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

One morning starts with sunshine, and the next dawns wet. I love the way the rain beads on the maple leaves, but I have to try various angles to see the droplets clearly.

Kaiwharawhara

There are some nice viewpoints on the winding roads in Wadestown. This one is above the long disused Kaiwharawhara station. I made a deliberate slow exposure (1.3 seconds) to capture the sense of rush as traffic enters and leaves Wellington.

Cineraria

At this time of year, the roadsides are alive with wildflowers as well as domestic flowers deliberately set loose. These cinerarias present a fine display

Family or Kindergarten?

At Whairepo lagoon (known to some as the Star Boating Club Lagoon), a female mallard was surrounded by a cluster of ten ducklings. I got too close so they set out across the lagoon in line astern. I was terrified that with the various predators underwater the ducklings would disappear one by one. Happily the convoy crossed the lagoon intact.

Cape Rain Daisy

It intrigues me that so many of the flowers in Wellington at this season seem to be a shade of purple. Further investigation shows many of them to be South African in origin. I am convinced that there is an orchestrated plan by one or more homesick expatriates to spread them. They are pretty enough, but rend to aggressively displace the natives.

Flower Crab Spider

Apologies to any arachnophobes. Mary found this tiny fellow on some flax flowers . With the help of the NZ Bug Identification group on Facebook, we learned that it is a flower crab spider. I love the bright yellow translucence.

Renewing the beach

I mentioned recently that the Oriental Bay Beach is regularly refreshed with sand shipped inform Golden Bay to replace that swept out to see by the harbour currentsA digger and a dump truck spent about a week dispersing the new sand along the beaches on either side of the rotunda. I assume that after wading through a metre or so of salt water the truck gets a thorough wash down.

Mana Marina

Is it a cliché? Probably. Do I like it? Yes. So what’s the argument?Mana Marina, like most such places gives limited access to the viewpoints on the harbour. There was a time when anyone could stroll along the pontoons. Now, you need to know the pass code to open the gate to each wharf. I suppose if I had heaps of money invested in one of these floating palaces I would want to protect it from risk.

A small waterfall

On the notoriously narrow and winding Akatarawa road that runs across the rugged hills between Upper Hutt and Waikanaethere is a sign that points to the Jock Atkins Waterfall.This pretty but somewhat trivial fall is named for Jock Atkins, a roadman who worked on this road for 50 years keeping it open with never a sick day. He rode the length of the road with his shovel, clearing the frequent minor slips. He died in 1997 aged 88.

A beach find

I love it that Mary finds treasures on her frequent walks and brings them home for me to photograph. This was the holdfast of a clump of seaweed from Petone Beach. Look at the colours and textures. Nature is surely the master weaver.

Another spider

As with the little yellow spider, this too is small, perhaps 20 mm in span. When you get close to see the hooked jaws (chelicerae) he looks fierce. It can give a painful bite but is rarely a threat to humans.